It’s never ideal to follow up a big win with a big loss.
Penn men’s basketball, coming off of an impressive opening victory on the road against Alabama on Tuesday, suffered an 80-61 loss to Rice in Houston on Saturday.
A year ago to the day, the Quakers’ offense exploded in a 92-76 win over the Owls (1-1) at the Palestra which ended up being their second-highest scoring total in a single game last season. The script flipped completely this time around with Penn (1-1) unable to get anything going on the offensive end.
Penn jumped out to an early nine-point lead, but Rice fought back quickly, thanks to a few buckets from the sophomore trio of Payton Moore, Trey Murphy, and Drew Peterson. The Quakers went cold down the stretch in the first half, experiencing a seven-minute scoring drought during a 14-0 run for the Owls.
Penn found success feeding senior forward AJ Brodeur early on, who notched 12 first-half points. Brodeur dominated in the paint on the offensive end but was unable to knock down some open three-point attempts.
One reason for the Quakers’ stagnant first-half offense was their inability to sink shots from behind the arc. The team as a whole went just 2-of-15 from three in the first half and found themselves trailing, 41-29, at the break.
Penn went back to Brodeur to try and cut down Rice’s lead early in the second half, but with his team still unable to find any success shooting from outside the paint, his contributions didn’t make much of a difference. Brodeur would wind up finishing with 20 points on 8-for-17 shooting.
The Owls, on the other hand, caught fire five minutes into the second half, with senior guard Ako Adams drilling a pair of threes and assisting another to senior forward Robert Martin to extend Rice’s lead to 21. Just as Penn was beginning to make a bit of a run midway through the second half, Adams knocked down another triple to put Rice’s lead back over 20.
Senior guard Devon Goodman, who struggled to a seven-point outing on 10 shots in the opener, saw his scoring difficulties continue against Rice. Goodman was widely projected to lead the Quakers' backcourt, but he was unable to get anything going, missing his first seven shots and being outshined by freshman guard Jordan Dingle for the second consecutive game.
Dingle was the best player on the floor for the Red and Blue in the second half, continuing to hustle and finish near the rim en route to a 22-point outing. Dingle showed impressive adaptation after failing to find success shooting from deep, where he hit two of his seven attempts.
Goodman wasn’t alone in his struggles, however, with the majority of the roster failing to find any sort of rhythm on offense. Outside of Brodeur and Dingle, the team shot 6-of-27 from the field, and nobody was able to put up a double-digit scoring number.
On the bright side, freshman forward Max Martz, who could compete for a starting spot in the future, saw his first game action for the Red and Blue, coming off a foot injury. Penn is hoping sophomore forward Michael Wang can join him in returning from injury in the coming weeks.
Up next for the Quakers is their home opener on Wednesday night against La Salle as they begin their Big 5 title defense.
Check back later for the full recap with quotes.